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‘Very survival’ of Iraqi State at risk, UN mission warns, as UN chief calls for calm and restraint

In a statement issued via his Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, Secretary-General António Guterres said he’d been following events “with concern”, as demonstrators stormed public buildings.

Mr. Sadr’s alliance won the majority of seats in last October’s general election, but his parliamentarians resigned en masse after reaching deadlock with a rival Shia bloc over the appointment of a new prime minister, according to news reports.

His supporters have been camped outside the parliament building for weeks, and previously stormed the building to protest the political stalemate and lack of progress.

Several were reported killed during Monday’s clashes after supporters flooded in to the presidential palace.

Immediate de-escalation

Mr. Guterres urged all involved “to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation” and avoid further violence.

“The Secretary-General strongly urges all parties and actors to rise above their differences and to engage, without further delay, in a peaceful and inclusive dialogue on a constructive way forward.”

‘Extremely dangerous’

Earlier in the day, the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq, UNAMI, called on all protesters to immediately leave the Baghdad International Zone, vacate government buildings, and “allow the Government to continue its responsibilities or running the State, in service of the Iraqi people.”

UNAMI said the developments marked “an extremely dangerous escalation. State institutions must operate unimpeded in service of the Iraqi people, under all circumstances and at all times. Respect for constitutional order will now prove vital.”

‘Unstoppable chain of events’

The mission urged all Iraqis to remain peaceful, cooperate with security forces and “refrain from acts that could lead to an unstoppable chain of events.”

UNAMI also calls on all (political) actors to work towards de-escalating tensions and resort to dialogue as the only means to resolve differences. Iraqis cannot be held hostage to an unpredictable and untenable situation. The very survival of the State is at stake.”

From The Field: Restoring Myanmar’s Mangroves

Mangroves in Bon Taung village, Myanmar
Mangroves in Bon Taung village, Myanmar, by Green Network Tanitharyi Region (GNTR)

The villagers had previously been unable to stop the purchase of an initial tranche of land, but when the company returned in an attempt to buy another 283 hectares of mangrove, locals were prepared; they had received a Securing Community Forest certificate, which served as a bulwark against further deforestation.

A local non-profit organization, Green Network Tanintharyi Region (GNTR) has so far helped 20 villages receive certification. This year, the group received a boost from the UN-REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) programme, which has allowed it to undertake coastal forest protection work.

Find out more about the work of GNTR and UN-REDD in Myanmar here.

UN deputy chief calls for action to deliver sustainable development in Africa

Ms. Mohammed was in the country to attend the eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8), which concluded that day.

The conference has been organized by Japan since 1993, under the philosophy of “African Development for African people.” It is co-hosted by the UN, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank, and the African Union Commission.

A new era

In welcoming the UN deputy chief, President Saied spoke of the new era in the world, citing the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, but also in Tunisia, which has a new Constitution that he said will establish greater accountability for all.

The President said TICAD has already brought important results for Africa, and there will be much to do to implement agreements reached during this latest edition of the conference.

SDGs remain relevant

Ms. Mohammed recalled that the SDGs remain a very relevant framework in this new era, and TICAD has served as an important reminder. 

The 17 goals aim to bring about a more just and equitable world, including through ending extreme poverty, achieving gender equality, and spurring economic growth, while also tackling climate change and preserving the natural environment. 

They were adopted by world leaders in 2015 and have a deadline of 2030.

The UN deputy chief said that in many places, governments have not yet succeeded in delivering better public services, particularly for women and girls.  She added that the UN will continue to support countries, and give hope to people.

Leden, a student with disabilities in Ethiopia, is receiving targeted education support, thanks to a programme funded by Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the UN’s fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises.

© Save the Children/Dereje
Leden, a student with disabilities in Ethiopia, is receiving targeted education support, thanks to a programme funded by Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the UN’s fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises.

Transforming education

Ms. Mohammed reminded President Saied of the UN Secretary-General’s invitation to attend the upcoming UN General Assembly and the important Transforming Education Summit. 

The three-day event, which begins at UN Headquarters on 16 September, aims to set out a new vision for education that equips learners of all ages and backgrounds with the skills, knowledge, and values they need to thrive.

She said that as a professor, President Saied could help redefine and rethink education in Africa. 

The President confirmed his interest in attending, and mentioned that adapting education to this new era is fundamental. He said a Supreme Council for education and learning is included in his country’s new Constitution.

The meeting with the Tunisian President took place a day after Ms. Mohammed addressed the opening ceremony for TICAD8.

A ‘perfect storm’

In her remarks, the Deputy Secretary-General called for action to confront what she described as “the cascading impacts of multiple crises” facing the world today.

She said recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of the war in Ukraine, the climate emergency and the financial crisis, are placing already vulnerable populations under severe stress.

“This ‘perfect storm’ is, in turn, creating a fertile breeding ground exacerbating existing and future conflict and unrest, thus compromising our collective efforts to achieve the SDGs and save lives and livelihoods,” she added.

Three areas for action

Ms. Mohammed said countries have an unprecedented opportunity to overcome these challenges and address security and sustainable development in Africa.

She underlined the need to accelerate action across three main areas to benefit African economies and achieve the SDGs.

The first calls for ensuring universal access to energy and a just and equitable transition to renewables.

A comprehensive approach is necessary here to chart energy development pathways in Africa, grounded in sustainable investments and strong partnerships, such as TICAD.

“With the energy access gap impacting about 600 million people, Africa will need the ‘energy development space’ to keep pace with its ambitions for universal, reliable and affordable access to clean energy,” she told the conference.

“The current global rise in energy prices can also prompt African countries to maximize the continent’s great potential for renewable energy. But this will require timely investments at scale.”

A women’s cooperative is forming in the township of Yoko, Cameroon.

© UN Women/Ryan Brown
A women’s cooperative is forming in the township of Yoko, Cameroon.

Transform food systems

The second area is focused on the need to transform global food systems, which means achieving food security, nutrition, self-sufficiency and jobs for young people across the continent.

“Expanding Africa’s breadbasket requires enhanced agriculture productivity and food systems that leverage new technology of modern irrigation systems, the mechanization of farming and the reduction of post-harvest losses, which are high priorities for the continent,” said Ms. Mohammed.

She added that the TICAD partnership can drive this transformation, through the right investments, technology and affordable innovations at scale. 

Lastly, Ms. Mohammed stressed that there can be no solution to these interconnected crises unless countries address inequality and its underlying factors.

“There is need for a shift in the perception of Africa as dependent continent to one that is a key actor on the global stage, with the same rights and standing as any other region. Be it economic or political. The mobilization of adequate financing for sustainable development is an imperative,” she said.

Seize upcoming opportunities

Ms. Mohammed urged participants to seize the opportunity of the upcoming UN General Assembly, the Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group, the G20 Meeting and the UN’s COP27 climate change conference, to strengthen collective action to recover better from the COVID-19 pandemic and respond to the impact of the continuing war in Ukraine.

Stating that “we are not starting from nothing”, she stressed the need for solid building blocks to achieve the ambition of delivering sustainable development for Africa.

The Deputy Secretary-General underlined the UN’s readiness to continue to accompany African countries in this journey.

Ukraine: Renewed shelling at Zaporizhzhia plant underlines nuclear accident risk

Rafael Mariano Grossi said Ukrainian authorities had informed the nuclear watchdog of renewed shelling at the site over the past three days, but they stated that all safety systems remained operational and there had been no increase in radiation levels.

“The latest shelling once again underlined the risk of a potential nuclear accident at the ZNPP, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant (NPP), which is controlled by Russian forces since early March but operated by its Ukrainian staff,” he said in a statement.

Incomplete information

Mr. Grossi said Ukraine did not yet have complete information on the nature of the damage from the shelling, which occurred on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. 

The Zaporizhzhia plant has six nuclear reactors.  It normally has four external power lines but three were lost earlier in the conflict, now in its seventh month.

The shelling had hit the area of the plant’s two so-called special buildings, located about 100 metres from the reactor buildings, as well as one overpass area. 

The buildings house facilities including water treatment plants, equipment repair shops or waste management facilities. Some water pipelines also were damaged, but they had been repaired.

Radioactivity in normal range

All measurements of radioactivity at the site were within normal range, and there was no indication of any hydrogen leakage, said Mr. Grossi, citing information from Ukraine.

The nuclear plant has continued access to off-site electricity after temporarily losing connection to its last remaining operational 750 kilovolt external power line on Thursday.

Connection was restored that afternoon following two power cuts and the disconnection of the plant’s two operating reactors from the national electricity grid.

Both reactor units were re-connected on Friday and are again operating. The other four units were disconnected before Thursday and remained in shutdown.

Mission efforts continue

Meanwhile, Mr. Grossi said he continues consultations with all parties in efforts to deploy an IAEA expert mission to the plant to help ensure nuclear safety and security there. 

The mission would assess the physical damage to the facilities, determine whether the main and back-up safety and security systems were functional, evaluate the working conditions of the staff, and perform urgent safeguard activities on the site.

Secretary-General’s concern

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has also called for a mission to be deployed “as soon as possible”. 

Last week, the UN chief told the Security Council that he remains “gravely concerned” about the situation in and around the nuclear plant.

“The warning lights are flashing,” he said in a briefing on Wednesday, which marked the sixth month of the “senseless war” in Ukraine, as well as the country’s 31st anniversary of independence.

“Any actions that might endanger the physical integrity, safety or security of the nuclear plant are simply unacceptable. Any further escalation of the situation could lead to self-destruction.”

Mr. Guterres said the UN has the logistics and security capacity in Ukraine to support any IAEA mission, provided both Russia and Ukraine agree.  

First Person: Sharing indigenous knowledge with tourists

Indigenous entrepreneur Celestina Ábalos runs a tourism business in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Quebrada de Humahuaca in Jujuy province, northern Argentina, sharing her community’s culture and knowledge of medicinal herbs.

“I am a child of Pachamama, Mother Earth. Earth is everything to us. It is life. We cannot conceive of ourselves without her. My community dates back 14,000 years. On behalf of 60 families, I led a 20-year fight for the right to land, education and freedom.

We used to live under a rental system where we had a landlord who delineated the spaces for us to occupy and to live in, both for sowing crops and raising cattle.  It was a life very much governed by what the master said, by the space you had to occupy, and by what I saw my parents having to pay at the end of each year.  These were very powerful moments for a teenager.  

Through the process of reclaiming our territory I began to think more about how to make my history and the history of my people known. I have always seen, and I continue to see in the media, the stigma that is placed on us indigenous peoples.   I wanted to show and make the other side of the story known.  That motivated me but I was thinking: “How do I do it, how do I show this?”

Indigenous Argentinian tourism entrepreneur Celestina Ábalos with her children.

Ivar Velasquez
Indigenous Argentinian tourism entrepreneur Celestina Ábalos with her children.

‘We are the guardians of our culture’

In 2003, our mountain valley, the Quebrada de Humahuaca, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. This marked a milestone in the history of our people. I saw that many people were talking about our mountains, our culture, our food.  And I said to myself: “but this is us: we know how to do it, we are the guardians of our culture”.

Culture, for us, is part of our daily life, it is the knowledge and skills that have been transmitted from generation to generation. We learn it from the moment we are born. It’s in our medicinal herbs and in our food, in our crops.
So I thought, “Why not dare to do what I know, what I have learned?” That is how my tourism business, a tea house called the Casa de Celestina, was born.

Indigenous Argentinian tourism entrepreneur Celestina Ábalos with a tourist.

Ivar Velasquez
Indigenous Argentinian tourism entrepreneur Celestina Ábalos with a tourist.

Sharing ancestral knowledge

When tourists come to the Casa de Celestina, I welcome them, I introduce them to the use of medicinal herbs, such as mate, which we drink in the morning and in the afternoon to energize ourselves. I talk about which herb we take when we are sick, when to harvest it, how to dry it, how to preserve them. 

I talk about our diet. We have our different corns here and we make our own flour, so we have flour for soup, flour for tamales, flour to make cookies, flour to make our juices, our drinks, flour to make our pastries

All that knowledge is there because it has been transmitted from generation to generation. Our mothers, our grandmothers, for me, are the real treasure troves of biodiversity. Our grandparents are those living libraries in our communities. Without them and without that knowledge, I could not be speaking today. 

I have learned, by observing, watching, sharing. You have to be contributing to the land, putting wood on the fire, lighting an oven and making your offering. You have to be there at sunset, when the goats are already back in the corral and the grandparents are sitting down.

The tourists prepare a dish with me. It can be a culli corn flour pudding, with nuts, with chocolate chips. Or they can also prepare a delicious meal, quinoa croquettes stuffed with goats cheese, with sautéed potatoes, rosemary and herbs. Or we can also prepare a llama casserole.

Then we visit my town and our church, which dates back to 1789. We visit the path of herbs, where they also learn about other medicinal herbs such as Muna-Muna, which is for bruises, for muscle pains. 

They get to know our stories, our ceremonies, like the dispatch of souls or the story of how we reclaimed our territory. I share what my day is like and what I do. And then we go down and we drink tea together and eat the pudding they have prepared. 

I renew their energies with the herbs that we have also brought from the path. They leave feeling renewed, they leave with a different view of us. They experience a living culture, the essence of culture.

That is what I like about tourism, about those who come to visit us. You see how this relationship of culture goes beyond sharing an experience. It is about looking at each other in a different way, to look at each other as human beings.

Indigenous Argentinian tourism entrepreneur Celestina-Ábalos.

Ivar Velasquez
Indigenous Argentinian tourism entrepreneur Celestina-Ábalos.

‘I am achieving my dream’

The pandemic hit my business very hard.  The reservations I had were cancelled. The little savings I had went to feeding my family.  I felt so impotent.  The government said that there were subsidies for entrepreneurs, but I did not qualify and had to continue to pay taxes.  Many small business entrepreneurs have had a very difficult time.  It was very hard.

I was invited to take part in a virtual Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) course, run by the International Labour Organization (ILO), that was going to take place between October and November 2021. I was very interested in improving my entrepreneurship and developing a business plan because it was one of the reasons why I could not access loans and subsidies. So, I said yes right away.  

The ILO course provided me with tools to scale up my business. I am still using them today. They included how to make a business plan, estimate costs, prepare a budget and inventory and manage social media. Some of the people on the course had already started their own businesses, others were about to start. It was a chance to share and exchange our experiences. What I liked the most were the course manuals. They are very, very useful, very good.

My business is steadily improving. I am achieving my dream.  

I still remember a speech that I gave a long time ago to Argentina’s then President Néstor Kirchner. I told him: “We, the indigenous peoples, want an opportunity, the opportunity for development, the opportunity to improve our quality of life.”

It is important for my community to see that it is possible, that we women can carry out our businesses with the tools we have. We do not have to wait until we have everything, but we can start with what we have now.”

Argentina’s indigenous communities

  • indigenous households (15%) in the country.
  • Argentina ratified the ILO’s Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No.169) in 2000.  
  • The Convention outlines the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples and the responsibilities of governments to protect these rights. 
  • These include indigenous and tribal peoples’   right to land and natural resources and to define their own priorities for development.
  • A study by the ILO’s Country Office for Argentina identified tourism as one of the industries with the best chances of recovery during the post-pandemic period, with the greatest capacity to provide decent work.
  • Celestina took part in the ILO Start and Improve your Business (SIYB) training as part of the ILO project: “Towards environmentally sustainable and inclusive post-pandemic tourism in Argentina”. 
  • The project was funded by the ILO’s Regular Budget Supplementary Account.

UN chief disappointed nuclear treaty conference ends without consensus

Following four weeks of intense discussions at UN Headquarters in New York, the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the NPT ended late on Friday without an outcome document because Russia objected to text about its control over Ukrainian nuclear facilities.

The Secretary-General expressed disappointment that countries were unable to reach consensus on a “substantive outcome”, and to capitalize on the opportunity to strengthen the 52-year-old treaty and advance its goals, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said in​​ a statement.

Heightened risk

While the UN chief welcomed the sincere and meaningful engagement by the parties, and the fact that the Conference recognized the NPT as the “cornerstone” of the global disarmament and non-proliferation regime, he regretted that it was unable to address the pressing challenges threatening global collective security.  

“The fraught international environment and the heightened risk of nuclear weapons being used, by accident or through miscalculation, demand urgent and resolute action.  The Secretary-General appeals to all States to use every avenue of dialogue, diplomacy, and negotiation to ease tensions, reduce nuclear risk and eliminate the nuclear threat once and for all,” Mr. Dujarric said. 

“A world free of nuclear weapons remains the United Nations’ highest disarmament priority and a goal to which the Secretary-General remains firmly committed.”

Delays and frustration

The NPT, which entered into force in March 1970, is the only binding commitment to the goal of disarmament by States which officially stockpile nuclear weapons.   

It is organized around three pillars – disarmament, non-proliferation, and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy – and 191 countries have joined the Treaty.

Review conferences are held every five years. The 2015 session also ended without an outcome document while the 2020 Conference was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ambassador Gustavo Zlauvinen of Argentina, President of the Review Conference, told journalists he was “frustrated” that parties did not adopt an outcome document by consensus.

Ukraine war ‘shadow’

Mr. Zlauvinen said he knew prospects were “very slim” even before proceedings started, given the divergent views over issues such as past commitments on security assurances.

“But the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February has exacerbated those tensions, and we knew that the war in Ukraine was going to cast a shadow on the Review Conference,” he said at a press conference on Friday evening.

The final plenary meeting was delayed and later suspended for several hours, he said, due to last-minute negotiations, particularly with the Russian delegation, which was unable to agree to the text “unless very important changes were to be introduced in the language with regard to the situation of the Ukrainian nuclear facilities under Russian control.”

Mr. Zlauvinen tried to see if other delegations would accept this language, “and it was not the case”.

He believed that overall, the Review Conference had been “meaningful”.  Delegations engaged in discussions on very complex issues, and the lack of an outcome document did not diminish their work.

“It is like we had a movie for four weeks, but we couldn’t take a picture at the end of the movie,” he said. “So not having the picture of that doesn’t reflect that the movie didn’t exist.”

Redouble efforts: UN disarmament chief

The UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, also addressed reporters.  Like the Secretary-General, she was disappointed at the outcome.

“The final draft was, of course, not a perfect document. We all knew that. But the vast majority of States parties felt that it will still be in the interest of the international community,” she said.

“So, our challenge now is to make sure that we will start from here and, if you will, redouble our efforts to make sure that the efforts towards nuclear disarmament will, in fact, be reinvigorated.”

Ms. Nakamitsu stressed that while this marked the second consecutive time the Conference ended without a consensus outcome, the NPT will not collapse or suffer immediate damage. 

“However, I think we have to make sure that we will reverse this trend of confidence and trust in this NPT regime continuing to go down. We need to reverse the frustration,” she said.

“And for that to happen, we have to make sure that there will be serious and substantive engagements between nuclear weapon States and non-nuclear weapon States, and of course, very importantly, amongst nuclear weapons States themselves as well.”

Young Jordanians innovate to tackle food insecurity

Jordanians are dealing with multiple overlapping challenges including slow economic growth, high youth unemployment, water scarcity and increased cost of living.

With 63 per cent of its population under the age of 30, Jordan has one of the youngest populations in the world, and youth engagement and mobilization is crucial to finding solutions to food insecurity. 

This is why the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) launched the Youth in Food Security Innovation Programme, which saw a group of young Jordanians, aged between 18 and 26, presenting a wide range of ideas, from addressing the problem of solid waste, to recycling fruit and vegetable peel.

As part of the project, the participants received training on the implications of food insecurity, the opportunities and challenges directly linked to food security, the role of technology in shaping the future of food, and strategies for changing the traditional food chain.

Aya Kraik, a participant in a WFP/ UNICEF youth innovation project in Jordan.

UNICEF/ Nadia Bseiso
Aya Kraik, a participant in a WFP/ UNICEF youth innovation project in Jordan.

Reviving the soil

Aya Kreik, an architecture student in Amman is one of those young innovators. Ms. Kreik and her team succeeded in converting farms waste into organic fertilizers rich in nutrients, reviving the soil and encouraging farmers to avoid the use of chemical fertilizers.

“My innovation idea aims to increase plants’ immunity to diseases and helps the soil to retain water in a large proportion, which reduces the amount of irrigation water needed. A modern method for treating waste and does not produce greenhouse gases”. she explains. “We started our project at the beginning of the pandemic. With the lockdowns, we thought of ideas to become self-sufficient when it comes to food.”

“The Jordanian Capital, Amman, is a very crowded city and there are no available spaces for farming”, she adds. “In addition, not all people are interested in healthy and organic food, because of lack of awareness and high prices. So, we were determined to raise awareness about the importance and benefits of organic food”.

“I am proud of where I got to today. We are about to start the first multiple-output, women-led farm in Jordan,” declares Ms. Kreik. “We, young people, need to think out of the box and come up with new ideas related to environmental sustainability”.

Alaa Al-Hijazeen and Nourhan Al Gharabli, participants in a youth innovation project by UNICEF/ WFP in Jordan.

UNICEF/ Nadia Bseiso
Alaa Al-Hijazeen and Nourhan Al Gharabli, participants in a youth innovation project by UNICEF/ WFP in Jordan.

Self-feeding plants

Banking and Finance graduate Alaa Al-Hijazeen and Business Intelligence student Nourhan Al Gharabli launched a startup that produces self-watering and self-feeding plants using a new type of hydrogel, consisting of self-absorbing polymers, that can transform moisture in the air into pure water.

“Our goal is not to make money”, says Alaa, “but to leave an impact and change people’s lives. Climate change is having direct impacts on food security, the air we breathe and the water we drink. We all need to take action.”

“Our next step is to turn this idea into a reality. And we are considering further exploring environmental businesses. Our environment is a great resource, and we can use it sustainably,” she adds.

Alaa Thalji,participant in a WFP/ UNICEF youth innovation project in Jordan.

UNICEF/ Nadia Bseiso
Alaa Thalji,participant in a WFP/ UNICEF youth innovation project in Jordan.

From peel to polymer

Agricultural engineer Alaa Thalji participated in the innovation training. Her project entails recycling the peels of fruits and vegetables to produce a chemical polymer that removes 99 per cent of heavy metals from water.

“I am an agricultural engineer, specializing in water treatment. I came up with the idea during my second year at university. I took a class called Environmental Chemical Pollutants, that introduced us to the dangers that pollutants pose to our health, and another class called Drinking Water Treatment, where our professor kept telling us how water containing heavy metals cannot be used for drinking purposes.

So, I thought about the many water sources that we unfortunately cannot make use of, and I started working on a chemical polymer that is organic and safe,” says Ms. Thalji. 

Youth in Food Security Innovation Programme 

  • The innovation programme focuses on helping young innovators identify problems in their own communities and become changemakers, by creating entrepreneurial and innovative solutions to address them.
  • UNICEF and WFP focus on employing tools of innovation to achieve sustainable development impact.
  • The partnership also reflects both agencies’ commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, and a shared strategic direction to employ innovation for development, while also supporting the green economy and community-based solutions in Jordan.

Chad: Unprecedented flooding affects more than 340,000 people

Swollen rivers have destroyed nearly 2,700 hectares of crops and farming land as well as hundreds of homes, while record rains over the past month threaten food security and livelihoods. 

Collecting data

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is supporting national and humanitarian efforts to address the emergency and provide urgent relief to those hardest hit.

Through its Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), the agency is working with authorities and local actors to develop and roll-out a flood data collection mechanism to capture the extent of the inundation and number of victims, including those displaced.

“The data collected will include information on the impacts of flood on populations and key infrastructures such as houses, schools and health centres, as well as information on affected populations’ profiles and primary needs, in order to better inform the humanitarian response,” said IOM’s Yakin Mwanza, the DTM Coordinator in Chad.

The new mechanism will include an information sharing platform to enable key actors and informants to report and publish useful flood data on a regular basis. 

Heavy rains across Chad inundated the capital, N’Djamena.

Heavy rains across Chad inundated the capital, N’Djamena.

“This new flood data collection mechanism will be implemented by clusters’ actors and local authorities and will be activated each year during flooding season in order to inform life-saving responses at early stage of the flooding,” she added.

Unprecedented rainfall

Although parts of Chad are faced with heavy rainfall each year, the precipitation seen in 2022 is unprecedented, according to IOM.

Extreme weather patterns illustrate the adverse effect of climate change in the region.

They are characterized by increased storms and a higher degree of variability, which causes stronger flash floods with devastating consequences for populations, especially in rural areas.

As the rains continue, we expect that more people will be displaced – IOM official

Limited funding

Despite the urgency of the situation, assistance such as shelter, food, and non-food items for those most affected remains hampered by inadequate funding.

“The rainy season lasts until October but the humanitarian situation we are witnessing now is already critical,” said IOM Chad Mission Chief Anne Kathrin Schaefer.

“As the rains continue, we expect that more people will be displaced but all humanitarian actors are already running out of emergency stocks to assist people”.

As of this month, only 33 per cent of 2022’s humanitarian funding required for Chad has been received by humanitarian actors on the ground.

In a joint flash appeal, the Government of Chad and humanitarian community are calling for $5.2 million to provide shelter, basic necessities, and protection to those affected by the floods.

WMO: Greater Horn of Africa drought forecast to continue for fifth year 

The forecast for October to December, issued at the Greater Horn of Africa Seasonal Climate Outlook Forum, shows high chances of drier than average conditions across most parts of the region, which will further worsen the crisis for millions of people

“It pains me to be the bearer of bad news,” said Guleid Artan, Director of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) – WMO’s climate centre for East Africa. 

We are entering the 5th consecutive failed rainy season – IGAD official

“Sadly, our models show with a high degree of confidence that we are entering the fifth consecutive failed rainy season in the Horn of Africa”.  

Raising the alarm 

Last month, IGAD and humanitarian agencies raised the alarm that over 50 million people in the region are suffering from acute food insecurity this year. 

“In Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, we are on the brink of an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe,” continued Mr. Artan, noting that significantly less rainfall totals are expected until the end of the year. 

The severity of the situation was echoed by IGAD Executive Secretary Workneh Gebeyehu, who made a solemn call to national governments, donors, humanitarian, and development actors to “adopt a no-regret strategy and help us weather the worst of this crisis”. 

Rainfall deficits 

Rainfall from October to December contributes up to 70 per cent of the annual total in the equatorial parts of the Greater Horn of Africa, particularly in eastern Kenya.  

Communities are losing their livestock due to drought in South Omo, Ethiopia.

© WFP/Michael Tewelde
Communities are losing their livestock due to drought in South Omo, Ethiopia.

However, the start of the rainy season is likely to be delayed across much of the eastern parts of the region, triggering rainfall deficits. 

The exceptional drought underlines the vulnerability of the region to climate-related risks, which are expected to intensify because of climate change.  

Early warning initiative 

Against the backdrop that hydrometerological and early warning services (EWS) can potentially reduce negative impacts, WMO revealed the launch of a new $5.2 million project to better enable regional and national entities to produce and use these services. 

Project Activities will be centered around supporting EWS regional services and strengthening regional coordination and cooperation for these and climate services. 

Support for regional centres to provide hydromet products and services will in turn contribute to strengthening the capacities of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, according to WMO. 

Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan  

Moreover, the project will also provide technical support to Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan by building upon and leveraging ongoing and pipeline investment projects implemented or financed by WMO, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the World Bank. 

In Ethiopia, activities will support providing electricity to “last mile” poor households in rural areas through a performance-based subsidy to the State-owned utility company.  

They will also provide communities with actionable EWS, ensure early actions, and develop demand-driven climate and early warning information services. 

In Somalia, activities will focus on developing and delivering priority public hydromet services; and in Sudan, they will focus on strengthening community involvement in EWS and strengthening flood early warning services. 

Sri Lanka: Devastating crisis for children, a ‘cautionary tale’ for South Asia 

The alert from the UN Children’s Fund, comes as Sri Lanka continues to suffer its worst financial slump since independence in 1948. 

Mr. Laryea-Adjei reports that, “families are skipping regular meals as staple foods become unaffordable. Children are going to bed hungry, unsure of where their next meal will come from.”

Mass food insecurity will only further promote malnutrition, poverty, disease and death in the region, he added.

Nascent food insecurity has compounded the social issues already plaguing the nation. The UN estimates that half of children in Sri Lanka already require some form of emergency assistance.

Education, one sector slammed by the economic crisis, has seen decreased student enrollment and a deficit in resources, in addition to commutes made dangerous by outdated infrastructure.

Increase in abuse

Mr. Laryea-Adjei further revealed that, “reports are already emerging of an increase in abuse, exploitation and violence against children due to the mounting economic pressure.” 

Similarly, in Sri Lanka, there are already over 10,000 children in institutional care, mainly as a result of poverty. These institutions do not provide the key familial support that is essential for childhood development.

Unfortunately, the current crisis is pushing more and more families to place their children in institutions, as they are no longer able to care for them.

Progress ‘erased permanently’

“If the current trend continues, hard-earned progress for children in Sri Lanka is at risk of being reversed and in some cases, erased permanently,” Mr. Laryea-Adjei said. 

UNICEF has been active in Sri Lanka for over 50 years. With the support of global partners, UNICEF has distributed education supplies, provided meals to pre-school children and badly needed cash transfers to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

However, the current economic crisis has revealed the vulnerability at heart of Sri Lankan social infrastructure, he noted.

George Laryea-Adjei, Regional Director for South Asia (right) visits the home of a family in Watawala, Sri Lanka.

© UNICEF/Chameera Laknath
George Laryea-Adjei, Regional Director for South Asia (right) visits the home of a family in Watawala, Sri Lanka.

Solutions for children

In reflecting further on the steps UNICEF should take to help Sri Lankan children affected by the economic crisis, Mr. Laryea-Adjei said, “children need to be placed squarely at the heart of the solution as the country works to resolve the crisis.

“Continuity of learning must be ensured for girls and boys of all ages, so they can prepare for their future and are shielded from the threats of child labour, exploitation and gender-based violence. Central and primary health services must be prioritized, to protect women and children against life-threatening diseases and malnutrition.”

If actions are not immediately taken to protect children against the worst effects of the global economic downturn, vulnerable children will be plunged further into poverty – and their health, nutrition, learning and safety compromised.

It therefore should be a priority of the international community to invest in the resilience of local communities as a bulwark against crisis. UNICEF said that Sri Lanka’s emergency is a warning to other South Asian countries of the risk of not preparing for economic hardship. 

Mr. Laryea-Adjei concluded, “we cannot let children pay the price for crises not of their making. We must act today to secure their futures tomorrow.” 

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